"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." D&C 84:88

Monday, June 30, 2014

Elders Dolben and Lund come for Dinner

This evening we had Elder Dolben and Lund over to our house.  Elder Dolben had some concerns about his family and President Wood gave him permission to speak to his parents for 15 minutes.  We were able to let him use FaceTime on our computer.  Like an obedient missionary, he ended the discussion by himself at the required time.

While they were here for the phone call at 7:00 pm, we invited them to have dinner with us.  Sister Thomas made some Chicken Casserole with stuffing which was a big hit with the Elders.  We caught a picture of them during desert.

Delivering Supplies and a Message from the Mission President

Today we had to deliver some items to the missionaries that we promised to provide when we did the flat inspections last week.  We also did the inspections of some of the other flats this morning as well. 

We were not very good with pictures this morning as we had accidentally left our camera at home.  Sister Thomas was able to get some pictures when we were delivering a duva and pillow to Elder La Fond.  The Elders were just waiting in their car for us to arrive because they were on their way to a soccer sporting day with the zone.

In these pictures President Thomas was delivering a special message from the Mission President to each of the missionaries.  I was assigned by President Wood to reach out to the missionaries in the East London. 

In this picture you can see Elders Grant, La Fond and just barely the heads of Elders Dolben and Lund.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Visiting the Port Alfred Branch today

We visited the Port Alfred Branch of the church today.  Sister Thomas and I spoke at Church.  Sister Thomas spoke about what we need to do to get more out of Sacrament Meeting and I spoke of beautiful mornings based on a talk by Elder Porter in the April Conference of 2013 combined with comments on the hymn “How Great Thou Art”.

After Church I interviewed three different members for their Temple Recommends.  The branch has a temple trip planned for next week and these members were the final ones that needed to get their recommends.  The branch has about 80 members.  About 25 members are going to the temple.  That shows you the strength of the branch and the commitment of the members.

After Church we had a wonderful lunch with the Wheelers and then drove back to East London.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

View from the Wheelers Balcony

This is a view from the Wheeler’s Balcony.  It must be the best view of any Senior Couple’s Balcony in the world.  In fact, we should have a contest to see what view is best.  If I knew how to get that done, I would attempted it. 

At the right time of the season there are whales migrating along the coast.  It is truly a beautiful place on earth.  There is something calming and peaceful about being by the sea.

Breakfast and Golfing at the Fish River Sun with the Wheelers

We got up early and drove out to the Fish River Sun have breakfast and to play some golf.  A very continental affair with a sit down breakfast that was really good and the cook made a wonderful omelet.  Sister Wheeler came around for the ride and a bit of a walk.  We discovered that Elder Wheeler swings a fairly good club when he parred the first hole right off the bat.

It was a beautiful day and the course was in good shape and we all played pretty good.  I believe Carolyn shot an 89 and I shot an 84.

In South African tradition, the round of golf included lunch at the half way point.  However, because we had such a big breakfast, we played through and had a snack at the end of the round of golf.

The Wheelers are easy going and are fun to be around and great hosts.  We will look forward to spending more time with them as we visit the Port Alfred branch.

Friday, June 27, 2014

First Pen Blow Out of our Mission

We were sitting at dinner at the Wheelers’ and Elder Wheeler suddenly asked with concern what was on my shirt.  I looked down to discover my first pen blowout in the mission field.  Ruined a white shirt and no amount of cleaning tricks could save it.  Ended up with a big ink spot that went clear through to skin.  After a great deal of scrubbing it has become obvious that I will carry a mark around with me for a while. Luckily, it is on a spot where it is covered up and will not show.

Kid Beach on the way to Port Alfred

 We are driving to Port Alfred today so we can spend some time with the Wheelers, speak in Church on Sunday and compete some Temple Recommend Interviews for the Branch.  While on the way we stopped to see what Kidd’s Beach was like.  President and Sister Wood describe it as an amazing place to stop for a walk.  We will come back on a preparation day when we have more time to enjoy the walk.

We stopped here and ate some lunch that sister Thomas had packed for us.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Flat Inspections - Elder Grant and La Fond

We have made appointments with all of the East London Zone to inspect their flats today.  Actually, the inspections went well with Sister Thomas being her usual thorough self.  These pictures were at the flat of Elders Grant and La Fond.  Today they have teamed up with Elder Capozzoli who is one of the Zone Leaders and his companion, Elder Nance, is in Cape Town for a Veterans meeting and dinner with President and Sister Wood.

Elder Grand and La Fond’s flat was fairly tidy.  Sister Thomas insisted that they inspect the vacuum to see if the bag need emptying.  In reality it was so full it is doubtful it has been cleaned in the past.  You can see Elder Grant doing a thorough job of cleaning the bag.

In the picture you can see from Left to right Elder Capozzoli, La Fond, Sister Thomas and Elder Grant.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Golf Game at the West Bank Golf Club

We finally have Monday when we can take the morning to go golfing at the Wast Bank Golf Club.  It gets its name from being on the West side of the Buffalo River and downtown East London is on the East side of the River.  The coast here really runs more east to west rather than north to south.

Playing here today ended up being good planning because we had to go to the airport to collect some mail.  The airfreight company that the mission uses to send the mail to East London is at the airport.

We both played fairly good today.  It was the first time we have had the opportunity to play golf in about three months.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Visiting the Randburg Ward and Lunch with Rob and Judy Milne

Today we attended the Randburg Ward meetings.  We ran into a number of members that we knew well.  (Wesson van Tonder, Molema's, Malpages, Van Schalkwyks, Snijnams, Sis. Cornilia and actually the list goes on and on and I really should not have begun listing anyone.  We love them all.  It was a joy to see them and it was enjoyable to be back in the building where we spent so much of our lives. 

It is hard to describe because we have lived world wide and have spent considerable time in other locations but here is where our “church” family has the strongest ties.  We are grateful for their influence in our lives and the lives of our girls and the love they continue to share with us. 

It is thrilling to see all the youth of the Sandton Ward branch out and become “the leaders of tomorrow”. They have taken on callings and grown both personally and in the Church.

We had lunch with Rob and Judy and rested a bit next to their heater before we departed to the airport to travel back to East London.  Very good friends.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Attending the Temple with Rob and Judy MIlne

We were able to attend the temple visit with Rob and Judy Milne on Saturday Afternoon.  We were lucky that they decided to come and attend with us because we were the only couple there and were asked to  be the witness couple.  Actually, we were told that as long as there are at least two couples they will have the session, otherwise they cancel the session.  It was good that Rob and Judy decided to attend with us.

Elder Thomas visits Dr. Alan Milne for a shot

Dr. Alan Milne gives Elder Thomas a Cortazone shot in his elbow.  My elbow has been getting worse over the past month and hopefully this will help move toward a healing process.  Rob Milne took me to the doctor’s office so he is taking this picture.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Flat Inspections and Lunch with Elders Slabbert and Ramsey

We drove the King Williams Town to inspect the Elder's boarding and to attend district meeting with Elder Slabbert and Ramsey.  Interestingly Elder Ramsey is from Malawi and is the only member of his family. The district meeting was centered on teaching how to and why we should approach our Heavenly Father in Prayer.  Elder Slabbert did a good job of leading the discussion.

Sister Thomas brought the hair cutting equipment so she could give Elder Slabbert a hair cut.

Once the Flat inspections and hair cut were done and district meeting over we went to lunch with Elders Slabbert and Ramsey at the Spur. 

We drove back to East London and stopped at the hotel at the Hemmingway's Mall so we could make a reservation for two rooms for Elder Cook and President Merrill at the end of August when them come on a mission tour.  We also have to make sure we get a booking at a hotel for the dinner with all the Senior Couples.

From there we went and packed and went to the airport so we could fly to Johannesburg.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lunch with the Mthatha District

After inspections we took the Elders out to Panorattis for lunch.  We ordered three large pizzas to share.  We were filled to the brim by the time we were finished.  After lunch we had to purchase electricity and some supplies at Spar.  We then enjoyed our three hour drive back to East London.

This is Elder Erickson, Thomas, Kaufusi, Tennant, Sister Thomas and Elder Mahoney.

Flat Inspections in Mthatha

Sister Thomas and I did the flat inspections in Mthatha today.  We also purchased some new curtains for one of the bedrooms and fixed one of the shelves that had fallen down in one of the bedrooms.   Flat inspection went well and the Elders tied with the Zone Leaders for the cleanest boarding in the Zone. 

Here we celebrate with the Elders as they claim the number one spot.  The boardings were very clean and the Elders should be proud of how they are keeping the boarding.  Elders Tennent, Mahoney, Erickson and Kaufusi are thrilled with the rating.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Companion Study with Elders Obonye and Whitworth

We had Elders Obonye and Whitworth over for breakfast this morning and companion studies.  We discussed the requirement to have the vehicle log books filled out completely and correctly.  We also reviewed the designated driver list and made sure that they had communicated this through their Zone.  Elder Obonye needed some help and support in filling out the application forms to BYU.  While he was doing that, he sought our help every once in a while. 

It was nice to have them here for breakfast.  Elder Obonye needs to do some work on finances which he will do this week with his parents and then we can complete the applications next week.  Elder Whitworth and I kept ourselves busy while Elder Obonye was busy on the computer and Sister Thomas was cleaning up after the breakfast.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Visit to Sunrise on Sea - a walk to the beach

Today we spent much of the day looking for new flats for three sets of Elders.  We were not too successful but tomorrow we will go with an estate agent.  We might be more productive tomorrow.  On the way home we went to visit Sunrise-On-Sea where the church is putting on a missionary activity on June 20th.  The sign is out and posted.

Sister Thomas was driving and found the large alo and wanted a picture next to it.  We also walked down to the beach for some pictures.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunset from our Back Yard - Sensational

A sunset from our back yard.  Actually, this is taken from two days ago but we were so busy on Monday doing errands that we did not stop to take any pictures.  The list was not small.  While Sister Thomas cleaned the house from top to bottom, I was fixing the faucet in the kitchen sink, adding at new spout for the filtered water, filed out the security gate latch so it will close properly, tighten up the seats on both toilets, then we dropped off a duvet to be dry cleaned and went to the church to tighten up the rim on the basketball standard.  Then we went to the Hemmingways Mall to check out the restaurants because we will have a mission tour here at the end of August with our new Mission President (President Merrill) and the New Area President (Elder Cook).  There will be a dinner with the two Presidents and their wives along with the Senior Couples on the Thursday night and the Tri-Zone conference will be on the Friday

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Our First Visit to the Grahamstown Branch

I had my first assignment as a member of the Mission Presidency over this weekend.  We traveled to Grahamstown to visit the Grahamstown Branch.  I was assigned to help the branch complete the audit of the Membership records, Release President Boyce and ask for a sustaining vote for President Thomas (a unique opportunity).  I also interviewed a member to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Sister Thomas attended Primary and you can see her visiting with the Primary President (Amanda) and Sister Chase.  That is me with Lonwabo Jay who has just had the Melchizedek conferred upon him and been ordained to the office of Elder.  I have not interviewed a more prepared person to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Famous Elder in the Liahona

Back in East London we are at the Amalinda chapel to pass out the post that arrived on Friday morning.  All of the Mdantsane Zone is at the Church for their final interviews with President Wood so we could catch them in one place.  While there, we were passing out the mail and the new Liahona’s and we discover a famous missionary who was in the Liahona in the Regional inset section for Africa. 

This is Elder Mchunu who found a copy of the Book of Mormon with no cover and read it and was converted.  The story tells of him joining the church and then being called on a mission to Kenya. Because he could not get a visa, his assignment was changed to South Africa.

We have President and Sister Wood over for Dinner

We were able to have the Woods over for dinner tonight at our home in Gonubie.  Sister Thomas cooked Chicken Casserole with stuffing and blueberry cheese cake for dessert.  It was very good. 

It was an enjoyable evening with the Woods and we got to know just a bit more about their home in Alaska and all their kids and grandchildren.  It was an evening spent with “grownups” which is a change from our constant association with the Elders.  This was a nice experience and will be the last time we are able to associate with them prior to them returning home following a very successful mission.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Elders meet up for Lunch at Nando's

We had to purchase some supplies for the Elders and when we were done they had all met up for lunch at Nandos.  We went in to deliver Elder Labrum a new duvet cover because he has not had one.  I had the chance to catch a picture of all of them including the AP’s.

All you missionary families out there, let us know if you can pick our your son.  While all the Elders love Nando's there are a couple who brought some Kentucky Fried Chicken from across the Street.

Around the table from left to right: Elders Manda, Chaparadza, Matini, Ah-Fua, Andersen, Murphy, Cathemer, Gillespie, Potter, Labrum, Pennington and finally Shabalala.

Our Last Picture of President and Sister Wood at the Queenstown Chapel

President and Sister Wood are in Queenstown to interview each of the Elders.  This is the last interview that President Wood will have with each of the missionaries.  Amongst all our activities during this day, we make it over to the church to get one last picture with them next to the Queenstown chapel.

Putting up the Basketball net for the Elders in Queenstown

While we were in Queenstown I was able to get the Elders help and we put up the basketball net that we purchased in East London.  I spoke to the Elders the following Monday and they were very grateful to finally hear the net go swish as the made a basket.  I know that feeling.

You can see Sister Thomas and Sister Wood in the back ground in discussion.  Sister Wood was there waiting for President Wood as he completed his interviews of all the Elders in the Queenstown Zone.

Successful Flat Inspections in Queenstown

One of our activities today was to complete the flat inspections in Queenstown.  This was a very pleasant experience.  All of Sister Thomas’ scoring was above 95 percent this time.  Actually the Zone Leaders scored the highest on the “Sister Thomas meter”.

The Elders are finally to the point where they can see the benefit of getting their flats clean and keeping them that way.  It is clear that the spirit resides more abundantly in a clean apartment.  Of course, after each transfer, some additional training needs to take place as new Elders arrive.

You can see from top to bottom and left to right: Elders Potter, Shabalala, Pennington, Chathemer, Labrum, Matini Ah-fua and Chaparadza.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Birthday Celebrations of Elder Shabalala and Elder Matini.

We had some actions that we needed to take care of in Queenstown.  One of them was the birthday celebrations of Elder Shabalala and Elder Matini.  We invited the Elders over so we could sing happy birthday and share some of Sister Thomas’ cakes.  She made one cake in East London and another one when we arrived in Queenstown.

We were some what lucky because the Assistants to the President were in Queenstown so they could come and join with us.  With a group of Elders like this it is hard to get a picture of each of them.  However, in these pictures you can see each of the Elders in Queenstown and the AP’s.  That is Elder Shabalala and then Elder Matini on Sister Thomas’ left.  They both managed to blow out their candles.

Around the room in the lower left picture are Elders Cathemer, Gillespie, Shabalala, Manda, Potter, Matini, and Chaparadza.  In upper left are Elders Matini, Chaparadza, Andersen, Murphy, Labrum and on the floor, Elders Ah-Fua and Pennington.

We have established a wonderful tradition that was inaugurated by Elder Shongwe.  At the end of the evening when the bewitching time approaches and the Elders have to get to their boarding, one Elder kneels down and all the others follow.  As it turns out, the last person standing “gets to say the prayer”.  We have had the pleasure of hearing some of the most earnest, heart felt prayers as we have had the privilege of kneeling with the Elders.  Heavenly Father’s servants kneeling in prayer is a powerful faith promoting thing.  This is a little piece of our mission that we will carry with us always. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Elder Thomas Gets a Birthday Wish

Elder Thomas is part of the birthday group that the three Zones sing to.   It was a rather fun to be part of this birthday celebration and I received a nice card from President and Sister Wood.  Their note was as follows:

Dear President Thomas!

Happy Birthday!

You will be a wonderful contribution in the Presidency.  Thank you for sharing your talents, experience and wisdom with us….

We love and admire you and your capable wife.

Sister and President Wood

The AP's come to stay with us and we catch up at the Church

We had the President's AP's come to our house and sleep over for the night.  It was a pleasure to have them come in the evening and then catch a rather quick cold cereal breakfast before being off to Zone Conference. 

While we were getting to know the them, Elder Gillespie is on my right and Elder Andersen is on Sister Thomas’ left.  We learned that Elder Andersen knows many of Alice Christensen’s relatives and also knew all of Jerry and Alice’s three sons who served in Denmark.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dinner with the President and Sister Wood and all the Senior Couples

On the Monday evening prior to Zone Conference when all the Senior Couples arrive in East London, we are able to sit down and enjoy dinner together.  It is a wonderful opportunity to discuss similar problems and get reacquainted.  Many times we will go for 2 1/2 months until we see each other.

This meal was particularly nice because it was the last time we will be together with President and Sister Wood.

Hanging the Basketball net at the Amalinda Chapel for the Elders

When we arrived at the Church on Monday to meet up with the Elders, they were going to play basketball but the hoop had no net.  I decided to put up the one that I had found for the Elders up in Queenstown.  Elder Ah-Fua took the first shot and made the first swish through the net.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

View from our Back Yard to the West

This is a panoramic picture taken from our back deck in Gonubie.  Of course, the deck railing is not curved as shown in the picture but because the picture is a full 180 degrees, it "bends" the deck as a result of the movement of the camera.  It is a wonderful view out toward the west of our boarding.  There is peace and solace here and you can feel the lingering spirit of the Boyces, who just went home and the Fowers, who were here prior to the Boyces.  We even received a note from the LaPrays who served here in Cape Town Mission in 2010 - 2011.  On occasion, they stayed in the Gonubie boarding.   Hopefully, we will be able to leave some of our lingering spirit when we have successfully completed our mission in another 10 months. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Busy Day Picking up the Post and District Meeting

Today was a busy day.  It began on a trip to the airport to pick up the post.  Then we had to open it and separate it into Districts so we could deliver it to the Elders before District meetings.  We were able to do this but next week we will have to get an earlier start.

Once the post was delivered, we met up with the Elders for district meetings.  We had called prior and asked Elder Hixon who is one of the District Leaders in the East London Zone if we could attend with his district.

The training was lead by Elder Roeloffze and we had a good training where his questions were addressed directly to those in attendance and, as a result, all were involved.  He also extracted a commitment to undertake better planning through prayer with the individual being mentioned.  It was a good meeting.

We were able to deliver some post to these Elders and to surprise Elder Ellingson with his package.  He was excited and had to open the box before district meeting started.  It was filled with all types of goodies  - well done to the Ellingson family. 

We watched some training videos during the district meeting and Elder Ellingson insisted that we all get one or two Junior Mints to eat during the “Movie”.  He shared with the biggest smile on his face.

That is Elder Ellingson with his package being face bombed by Elder Hixon.  The pictures of the District in the upper left are as follows:  Elder Hixon, Sister Thomas, Elder Moliki, Elder Roeloffze and Elder Ellingson.  It was a chilly day as you can see from Sister Thomas’ wrap.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Companionship Study with Elder Chaparadza & Elder Labrum

While we were in Queenstown, we arranged to meet with the Elders who are serving in the Sada Ward. (Elders Chaparadza & Labrum) We did this to make sure that they understand what we were trying to get accomplished and that there is a measure of hand over to the ward from some of the things that we were driving forward.

It was a good review “Breakfast” and we agreed that we would arrange a meeting with the Bishop so we could come back up and agree how the Bishop would drive some of these things forward.

When we were done, we went over to the Elders’ flats to deliver some items that they needed such as dish washing soap and some bleach and we had to purchase one heater.  Then one final clean up at the apartment and we were on our way back to East London.  That is me locking the door as we get ready to depart.  We really enjoyed this apartment.  Sister Thomas did a good job of making it feel like home.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Cleaning out the Queenstown Flat and Spider Bites

Today we completed some urgent errands in East London and also delivered some Books of Mormon to Elder Black and Mashego.  We also helped them make the final arrangements for their car to be serviced tomorrow.

We arrived in Queenstown and had to pay some bills and then began to move the final items from the flat.  We had most of that done by 7:00 PM in the evening and then went out to dinner because there is not much left in the flat.

Later, we went over to visit with the Elders so we could check on the progress of Elder Shahalala’s spider bite.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

SACTM Leadership Skype Call

Mission Leadership Skype meeting was today and we had this from our new boarding in East London.  The Elders that joined us were as follows:

East London Zone - Elders Nance & Capozzoli;

Mdantsane Zone -  Elders Obonye & Whitsorth

Queenstown Zone -  Elders Murphy & Manda. 

We invited them over for breakfast prior to the Skype call.  The Queenstown Zone Leaders drove down this morning but the arrived here on time.  Sister Thomas made a breakfast of French Toast casserole, Hash Browns, Scrambled Eggs and Bacon.  It was truly enjoyed by all.

The meeting included the Statistical Report from the Elders around the mission, a message from Elder France on automobiles and Flats and some instructions from Sister Peterson on the new health insurance procedures. There was also some instruction on Finance and budgeting from Elder Peterson.

There were some issues that were discussed from the eElders and President Wood provided some guidance and good counsel on several of these issues.

After Zone meeting, we went out and Elder Murphy had left his car’s lights on.  The elders had to push it back up a hill where we tried to jump it.  The battery was so dead that after 20 minutes of trying we eventually had to remove the battery and put one in from a different vehicle.  Once it was running, we took the good battery back out and replaced it with the dead one.  Hopefully, it will be fully charged by the time they drive back to Queenstown.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Welcome to East London "Moment"

While we were driving down to East London we received a call from Elder and Sister Boyce.  They received a call from a tow truck who was about to tow an Elder’s car from an accident.  The Elders had called Elder France but not Elder Boyce.

It is a long story but the incorrect driver was driving the car at the time.  It was an Elder with no license so the Elders were off to the police station and then there will be all the insurance forms and the ticket from the accident.

I guess we felt like it was a “Welcome to East London Elder & Sister Thomas" type of moment.

I called President Wood and recommended some actions and he will review and we will follow up next week at the Zone Conference.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Last Sacrement Meeting in Sada

Today was testimony meeting and we enjoyed the opportunity to stand and bear our testimony to all the saints at Sada.  We have truly enjoyed the time spent here.  In fact, there is more than a little bit of reluctance on our part in contemplating our departure.

During Primary and Young Men/Young Women Sister Thomas passed out the toothbrushes that Trisha had donated and which we brought back from the United States.  The Primary children were very pleased and were grateful.  The Young Men and Young Women looked at the gift and wondered for a minute. Then Sister Thomas told them that we wanted to remember their wonderful smiles so if they brushed everyday, we would be able to come back and see their smiles again some day.  You can see Sister Thomas beginning to pass them out to the Primary Children.  They were also supposed to say, “Mdingumntwana ka Thixo” while looking in the mirror and brushing.  That is “I am a Child of God in Xhosa.  Soso Mpinda wanted a picture with us.

Sister Xalabile claimed that she wonders if the church is really true to have us go to the office in Cape Town.  We explained that we are moving to East London and what we will be doing and she better understood.  We will still be in the area, we are just responsible for more missionaries and a larger area,  at least for a while until the next couple arrives in the mission.